Monday, August 27, 2012

Crisp Gnocchi Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

I got this recipe from Rachel Ray's magazine. I tweaked the recipe to make it vegan and added a little zip. 
When I set my dad's plate before him, he said, "What in the world are these things??" He apparently had never heard of gnocchi. Haha. I discovered it a few years ago and enjoy it once in a while. It's a lot heavier and more filling than a regular pasta. 
In the end, my dad loved this dish. I added extra extra spinach leaves, as you can see how green and thick the pesto is. You certainly don't have to do that. I added as little oil as possible to make it healthier. It was delicious.
Crisp Gnocchi Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

4 cups (about half a 5-oz. pkg.) baby spinach, loosely packed
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO (I used less)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used nutritional yeast)
Salt and pepper
1 package (16 oz.) gnocchi (I used whole wheat)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Pine nuts, toasted, optional
Sun-dried tomatoes, julienne, optional  

Using a food processor, puree the spinach, almonds, garlic and 1 tbsp. lemon juice. With the machine on, gradually pour in 1/3 cup EVOO until smooth. Pulse in 1/2 cup "parmesan"; season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes; turn and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden all over, about 2 minutes. Stir in the grape & sun-dried tomatoes and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pesto. Top with toasted pine nuts, if desired.
I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I'm looking forward to fall but I'm not ready for summer to end.. :) 

Happy Cooking,

Chef Teebs 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Layered Pasta Bake

I recently made Eggplant Ratatouille marinara, a recipe I tried last year. I still say it's probably the best pasta sauce I've ever tasted. So incredibly flavorful and veggie-packed, has a thicker, creamy texture.. yum. I ended up having a lot of leftover sauce, so I froze the rest. Well, the wonderful day came when I pulled it out of the freezer. I saw a recipe for a baked pasta dish in Linda McCartney's Cookbook, World of Vegetarian Cooking and thought I would use the eggplant sauce instead of making another marinara sauce. I also altered this recipe to make it vegan. It was absolutely delicious!

Layered Pasta Bake

14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 C.tomato puree
1 C. water
2 t. dried thyme, or 1 t. fresh, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lb. vegetarian feta, diced (I used vegan pepper jack)
sea salt & black pepper to taste
3 C. dried pasta (fusilli or penne)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced
3 T. olive oil
1/2 C. cheddar cheese, grated (I used vegan cheddar)
freshly chopped basil to garnish

In a medium saucepan, simmer the tomatoes, tomato puree, and water with thyme, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. When the sauce has reduced and thickened a little, after 8-10 minutes, add the feta. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according o the instructions on the package. Drain, and mix it thoroughly with the tomato sauce. 

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and zucchini in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
 Spread half the pasta mixture in a large baking dish and layer the zucchini mixture on top. Cover with the rest of the pasta mixture. 

Sprinkle with the cheddar and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh basil. 
 In our back yard, we have a big tomato garden. My dad asked me to make some of my mom's famous fried green tomatoes. I thought it would go well with this dish. I also made my famous garlic bread recipe, a must! 
 I hope you are enjoying the last bit of your summer. I have many more recipes to put up. I've been cooking almost every day. I just haven't had time to post them. 

God bless you,

Chef Teebs

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Indonesia, Egypt, the Caribbean? Why not mix it up?

A while ago I kept coming across recipes that called for "unsweetened shredded coconut." I finally came across some and figured I better buy it while I got the chance. When I came home I unloaded the groceries and started looking through my recipes and couldn't seem to find any that called for this! Have you ever had that happen? Well, thankfully I tucked the coconut flakes in the freezer. Because they just came in handy. Caribbean Coconut Rice, a recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine, one of my favorites. I also love Rachel Ray (though I wish she would offer more vegan/plant based recipes, but she's fun), Cooking Light, and Whole Living. Any recommendations? 
 Anywho, I was wanting to make something spicy and thought this combo would either be funky or really amazing. I took the risk... and I sure am glad I did. I paired the rice with my own twist on Spicy Peanut Sauce with Cauliflower, Carrots and Broccoli, from Linda McCartney's Cookbook, World of Vegetarian Cooking. It was so delicious. After the first bite, I said to my dad, "This is definitely one of my favorites so far." Well, I'll share the recipes with you now so you don't have to wait any longer. 

Caribbean Coconut Rice

2 t. unsalted butter
2 t. minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced (1 t.)
1 3" cinnamon stick
1 C. jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
3/4 C. coconut milk
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. grated lime zest
1/8 t. white pepper

1/4 C. toasted shredded, unsweetened coconut, optional

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon stick, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in rice, and sauté 2 minutes, or until rice grains are opaque. Add coconut milk, sugar, salt, lime zest, white pepper, and 3/4 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beet Burgers

I haven't made many veggie burger recipes. I was on the lookout for a really good one though. I try to eat a plant-based diet, instead of a meat-replaced vegetarian diet. In other words, I don't like to eat a lot of processed soy products, like most burgers out there. I recently got Color Me Vegan, by Colleen Patrick-Goureau. The beet burger was one of the first recipes in her cookbook that caught my eye. I've been juicing beets a lot lately and had a bunch lying in the fridge. Why not turn some into burgers? 

Alongside the burgers, I made homemade fries. I simply cut them into wedges, placed them on a baking sheet, lightly drizzled them with EVOO, coarse salt, cracked pepper, and crushed garlic. Yummy!

Beet Burgers

2 C. grated beets (about 2 large beets)
1 1/2 C. cooked bulgur wheat (or quinoa or millet)
1 C. sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 C. sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 C. onion, minced
1/2 C. breadcrumbs
1/4 C. oil
3 T. all-purpose flour
3 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 T. tamari soy sauce
1/4 t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
 In a large bowl, combine the grated beets, bulgur, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, onion, bread crumbs, oil, flour, parsley, garlic, tamari, and cayenne. Add salt to taste.
 At this point, test if you can create a patty that will stay together. These are definitely softer-type burgers, but you should still be able to form a patty with no problem. If it still falls apart, add a little more bulgur or flour until you have a firm patty that won't fall apart while cooking/baking.
 Continue forming uniform-size patties. You can make them a little bulky and get 12 patties  out of them. You can also make them a little smaller and less dense. 
 Bake for 25 minutes or until firm. Carefully flip halfway during the cooking time.
 Should make 10-12 burgers. You can also fry them in a pan with a little olive oil instead of baking. 
These burgers have a delicious taste, and texture. I found that they cooked better in the oven. It seemed like the inside wasn't getting cooked, so I threw them in the oven for until they looked right. I froze the rest in separate sandwich bags. They freeze perfectly and still taste excellent when cooked again in a skillet. Give it a try. Have some friends over before summer is over. Make some shirley temples. Turn up the music. And don't forget the pickles:) My favorite is Claussen, in the refrigerated section. Yum.


Chef Teebs :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saffron Chickpeas and Rainbow Swiss Chard with Red Quinoa

I've been really enjoying greens. I'm introducing myself to more and more slowly. I fell in love with spinach a couple years ago. Spinach salads, on a veggie sandwich, in a smoothie or juice, or sauteed with garlic,... yum yum. I really enjoy kale salads or chips, raw or cooked. I asked my mom to pick up some kale for tonight's dinner. My co-worker and friend, Tahmi, was coming for a special long-awaited dinner we had talked too long about having. I decided to make a sort-of "bowl." I used a recipe I found in Whole Living Magazine and made minor tweaks here and there. 
 My mom wasn't able to get kale, so she picked up this vibrant, gorgeous rainbow swiss chard.  It didn't taste different than regular s.c., but it sure looked striking. I am going to put the original recipe because I didn't do much different. I used a green bell pepper because I had it on hand, for example, but it would have been better with the red bell pepper that the recipe calls for. :)

Saffron Chickpeas and Bitter Greens with Quinoa

1/4 t. saffron
1 1/2 C. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 can)
coarse salt
2 T. coconut oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
4 C. bitter greens, such as kale or dandelion, cut into 1/2" ribbons
2 1/2 C. chopped watercress
2 T. chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for garnish
1/4 C. chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
3 C. cooked quinoa
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 C. pumpkin seeds, toasted

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water and saffron to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Add chickpeas and a pinch of salt & simmer 5 minutes more. Set aside. 
Heat oil or water in a large skillet over medium heat and cook onion, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes. Add pepper, garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes more. Stir in greens, and chickpea mixture and cook until greens are just wilted. Season with salt. Remove from heat and mix in chopped herbs. 
Divide quinoa among four bowls and top with vegetables, avocado, and seeds. Garnish with herbs. 

Tahmi loved everything. I served the dish with toasted potato rolls my dad picked up. And dessert was delicious! I made a blueberry/blackberry/raspberry/peach/mango pie from scratch. It was so tasty. She said it was the best pie she had ever had. I snuck a piece in her take-home bag. It was a lovely night with laughs and great conversation. 

The saffron chickpeas were very flavorful, the quinoa added a nice nutty crunch, and the creamy avocado brought the whole dish together like strings in a symphony. Give it a try. Throw in whatever you like. That's what is so great about a bowl. 


Chef Teebs

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Texas Chocolate Cake

This cake is absolutely delicious. It's the best chocolate sheet cake I've ever had. And my family makes it vegan! I have made this for friend's birthdays, get togethers, and perfect for a weeknight dessert. I have had several people tell me they couldn't believe how good it was and that it was vegan! And believe it or not, it's easy!

This week at my church homegroup, we had a cookout. Everyone brought something. Chips, hot dogs, veggie burgers, watermelon, fruit salad, cookies, and I brought this lovely cake. There were leftovers, so I dropped off a piece for everyone at work. They all loved it. I got the recipe from my mom. And I will pass it on to you...

Texas Chocolate Cake
      2 C. sugar
      2 C. flour
      1 stick margarine 
      3 1/2 T. cocoa powder
      1 C. water
      1/2 C. crisco
      1/2 C. buttermilk (I use soy/rice milk with 1 1/2 t. apple cider vinegar, let it sit 5 minutes before using)
      2 eggs (I use Ener-G egg replacer)
      1 t. baking soda
      1 t. vanilla extract

      1 stick margarine
      6 T. milk (or less) (I use soy/rice)
      3 1/2 T. cocoa powder
      1 1b. powdered sugar
      1/2 C. walnuts, chopped
In a bowl, mix together sugar and flour. 
In a saucepan, bring to a boil: margarine, cocoa, water and crisco. Once melted, pour over dry ingredients. Beat and then add in buttermilk, eggs, soda, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour in a greased and floured 9x13" pan. Bake 400°F for 20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool before icing.
To make frosting, in a saucepan, bring to boil: margarine, milk, and cocoa. Mix well with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add powdered sugar and walnuts. Add more soy if needed. I like to start with less and add more if needed. You shouldn't need more than 6 T. If it seems to runny, add more powdered sugar. 
Starbucks cake drop off :)

 Give it a try. Yum yum..

Chef Teebs

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Strawberry cupcakes... a pregnant Craving...

Last year I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend. The lovely gal organizing the party requested us to make cupcakes. I brought strawberry, my sister's favorite. This recipe is far from healthy and not my usual kind of cooking. You can make this as vegan as you would like or not. I'll post the original and give some variations. 
A few weeks ago at work, my co-worker said his wife hasn't stopped talking about those cupcakes ever since that party. He said she mentions them at least once a month. She's currently pregnant with her first child. I told him not to tell her but I'm going to make them and surprise her with them! 
She was very happy about them. They are pretty tasty!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

1 pkg white cake mix*
1/3 C. oil*
3 eggs* (or Ener-G egg replacer)

1/2-3/4 pkg strawberry jello (or vegan jello)
1 pkg frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed
*or instead, you could make your favorite white cake from scratch and add in the jello and strawberries, following the directions below. Just be sure you omit the oil and eggs if you are using your own cake recipe.
Preheat oven 350°F. Mix cake mix with jello powder. Add oil and eggs. Mix well. Add berries, reserving 1/2 C. juice. Put batter in greased cupcake tins with liners or 2 prepared round 8" cake pans. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when poked through center. 
Let cupcakes cool and then ice with frosting.
1 3 oz pkg cream cheese (or vegan)
2 T. margarine 
1-2 1b. confectioners sugar
1/2 C. reserved strawberry juice
Beat cream cheese, margarine and juice well. Slowly add in confectioner's sugar until smooth and easy to spread but not too runny. 
I made this as a layered cake for my sister's bridal shower. Everyone loved it! It's such a fun, girly color. You can make this recipe as healthy as you would like to. The real strawberry slices in there really kick it up. Definitely much tastier than boxed strawberry cake mix. 

The weather here has been very hot. Our garden is springing up tomatoes, flowers, roses, and herbs. We could just use some rain. Soon I will be using these beautiful tomatoes in a tasty dish... more to come! 

Chef Teebs